That’s the beauty of music in 2017, it comes from places you wouldn’t expect and Salute has helped to platform the rising generation of UK Music Makers, so we are never short on fresh sounds.
On that note, we are delighted to introduce the Portsmouth-based, Fugitive Orchestra from the Salute Music Maker 2017 class!
- SALUTE: How did you find out us James? What do you think of the SALUTE initiative and competition?
At the time of the competition I was still working on recording the songs for the new EP, so I entered ‘Scenes’, which is a track that I wrote some time ago, that basically grew out of an instrumental; I still think it has some of my favourite lyrics that I’ve written, but since I’m always most excited about the ‘newest’ music I’m writing and putting out, I probably view that track as the grandpa at the teenagers house-party when I look at it in the context of my song-catalogue, at least until the next song comes along!
I first heard about the Salute competition on Facebook. I’m pretty sure a friend tagged me, or I stumbled across it as an advert – I was immediately impressed by the scope of the competition and seeing that people like Feargal Sharkey were attached as well set the whole thing apart from the legion of ‘unsigned’ competitions out there. As the whole thing progressed I could see the way the voting process was unfolding was quite an innovative approach to the whole thing, utilising Facebook messenger (even though I still can’t get over that basketball game!) was a really unique approach to what I’ve found is usually: ‘text your vote to this premium-rate number to vote your friends into the competition!’ So seeing a move away from that was quite refreshing.
- SALUTE: How’s the summer been for you?
I had a brilliant, busy and productive summer, did plenty of gigs of all descriptions, from playing a beach-side wedding in Devon, to the Isle of Wight festival on the same stage as Wheatus, to recording my latest EP and finding inspiration for new songs while on holiday in Barcelona – it’s been hard work (except for the holiday) but really rewarding.
- SALUTE: Where are you based at the moment?
I’m based in Portsmouth where I’ve lived pretty much since I came here to study English Literature seven years ago! I did 4 years of uni, got the masters under my belt, then dashed off to do some traveling before settling back in Portsmouth about 3 years ago – the city has been really good to me and there’s a real vibrant music scene here.
- SALUTE: Where did you grow up? What was it like musically?
I grew up in a little village in the North-West called Great Eccleston, it’s a fairly quaint rural village with nice views and plenty of great pubs for its size. As ‘Great Ecc’ is fairly close to Blackpool, and only an hour’s train journey from Manchester, there was never really a feeling of being disconnected from what was going on, musically or culturally, anywhere else. So I’d say it was great to retreat into my little teenage bubble of music and ideas and hormones while I was growing up, but also really amazing to jump on a train to Manchester with a bunch of friends, go along to a gig and be surrounded by people with similar ideas, but also have those teenage notions of omniscience challenged now and again!
- SALUTE: How did you get started making music?
I started playing guitar at the age of 13, by which time I’d already been trying to write songs and hammer notes out of my dad’s guitar for a few years! Then I got bitten by the ‘open-mic’ bug and found there were some great places in my area to go to and perform and meet other like-minded musicians – I probably started performing before I was properly ‘ready’ so I’m sure it was asking a lot of the other folks to clap and be supportive, but they were so welcoming and lovely and I had so much energy and couldn’t wait to perform; I’m happy to report that nothing has changed there! Shortly after that I formed a band with 3 of my best mates and we played absolutely everywhere in the area and honed our sound over the years in my parent’s garage. I learned a lot about stage-presence, teamwork and how to be a bit more thick-skinned from those formative years – especially when you’re playing in a venue to no-one but the bar staff and the gents working on the door who have no issue with sharing their (very negative) views on your brand of experimental Alt-Indie!
I’ve always loved singing and coming up with melodies and wrote my first song before I could even play an instrument; I think I was about 11 at this point. Though when I tried to sing the song again a week later, I realised that I’d just written a jumble of sounds in place of notes (it went something like: ‘bada-bum-bap-da-da-dum’) and I couldn’t remember the melody at all, so quickly realised that I needed a better way of translating the music in my head. Soon after that I started guitar lessons and have been making music ever since – I’m pretty sure I haven’t really refined my songwriting process since I was 11 though…
- SALUTE: What gear do you use for recording and production?
For years my recording gear of choice (well, necessity) was a Shure SM-58 mic into a Lexicon 2-channel interface, into a demo-version of Cubase, which I still feel quite at home with, and the range of free plugins that are available really helped me shape the sounds that I wanted to make. I’ve recently switched to Logic, which is amazing, I’m still just getting to grips with it, but the feeling that everything just works is really refreshing, after battling to understanding recording software for such a long time!
- SALUTE: With your next release ‘Rules of the Riddle’ coming out imminently, can you tell us about the process of making the Ep? Can you speak a bit about the inspiration and context of the four songs?
So my latest EP is out on the 24th November – I recorded it at Quay West Studios in Gosport, just a short drive from where I live in Portsmouth. The studio there is great and a fair amount of time was given to just exploring sounds, which I think is a really important aspect of recording for me – so to have been able to work in that environment was really inspiring. I think the thread that ties the four songs on the EP together is really just the idea of people, of a shared experience, at the very least we share a planet, we all struggle with something at some point in our lives: loss, heartbreak, financial struggles, even if some of us prefer the later works of Stevie Wonder and drink Bloody Mary’s. There’s a track on the EP called First Past the Post, which marks my first attempt at an overtly political song, I’m not sure if this was my intention from the outset, but somewhere along the line, I decided I was going to write a ‘Disco Protest song’, and really it’s just me lamenting at the state of the political climate, mainly here in the UK, but I think the ideas translate quite readily to the ‘state of affairs’ overseas. I think it’d be fair to say that events in the world right now are all happening very quickly, and it’s definitely not all good news, but what I think I’m getting at in many of the songs on the EP is that it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that we’re all human and in the most basic sense, we really are ‘all in this together’.